Full Bellies and Thankful Hearts

Yesterday was incredible! Between visiting one of our favorite areas (Sakubita), eating a traditional Zambian lunch hosted by our favorite sassy Zambian, Audrey, and rounding out the evening with a nap from 8:30pm until midnight on accident, we had quite the day.

The special breakfast of the day was probably the first since we’ve been here that I’ve been 100% excited to eat. Usually my days are filled with rice cakes and peanut butter and dried apricots, but today’s was baked beans in a tomato sauce! I know what you’re thinking, and yes, baked beans are in fact normally made with gluten. However, I checked the ingredients the night before and about cried tears of joy because they were gluten free. I’ve never been a big fan of beans and these were beans out a can to boot, but they were actually really good! Well, they at least topped yogurt and apricots, and it was something new so I was happy.

After breakfast, the gang was back together once more (Braydan, Caleb, Sophie, and myself) to visit our patients in Sakubita. Let me tell you, we got our daily steps in during those three hours, and by the time lunch rolled around, I was STARVING! Before that though, our patients in Sakubita were our priority, and it was amazing to see just how much some of them have been healing since we saw them last week. For instance, the woman with the crocodile bites has scabs formed or forming on almost every single wound, and the only would without a scab yet includes her severed calcaneal tendon (Achilles heal), but that at least had stopped bleeding which was still progress. The other woman with the huge gash in her upper thigh was WALKING! And while she was still in a ton of pain, the wound was definitely closing and she only showed signs of infection on the outer edges of the wound. We advised her daughter to go back to the clinic and refill her antibiotics since they had run out a few days before, so hopefully there will be more progress and less infection when we go again on Monday.

One fun experience we had while out was being chased down, literally chased, by a group of three and four year olds. One brave girl, the leader of the bunch, ran right into my arms (after swerving Sophie) and pretty much glued herself to my side. Every time I put her down, it was like a hydra, and two more kids would appear in the circle, all wanting to be picked up and played with by the Mzungu. It got to the point where Braydan had to come rescue me because the little people had me cornered practically.

After rescuing me, we continued walking for a bit, and all of a sudden we heard the pitter patter of little feet, and we turned around to see the group chasing us down again as we stopped to say hi to our caregiver, Benson’s, family. Again, the little girl came running up to me, and soon enough there were kids of all ages surrounding us. One of the older boys asked me if I could do the floss dance, and y’all. For the first time in my mortal existence, I managed to do the floss dance. I didn’t do it fast and it certainly wasn’t graceful, but it happened and I felt accomplished. The kids thought it was hilarious, so that made it all the better.

Lunch was a little different than normal. Instead of having lunch at the backpackers, those of us working in Sakubita for home based care along with another group from African Impact’s teacher and sports teams had lunch at Audrey’s home in Linda. The group from AI had signed up for a walk led by women from Sakubita that took them through the community of Sakubita, showing them the market and other areas since they don’t get to the see the communities like we do every day. Linda and Sakubita are really close, so once the group was done, they walked to Audrey’s house and we met up with them once we were finished with our patients.

Audrey and some of her friends had prepared an amazing feast for us of traditional Zambian foods like okra, chicken, soy pieces, sweet potato leaves, rapeseed leaves, eggplant, beans, and of course, nshima. There was so much food I swear we probably could’ve fed 10 more people and still had leftovers. Audrey insisted on stuffing us with seconds and thirds, and let me tell you, you don’t say ‘no’ to Audrey. I really appreciated that before the meal began, she also said a prayer of gratitude and blessing over the food. It’s been weird to be separated from the religious setting I’ve been used to being in in Utah, so it was both familiar and comforting to hear a prayer spoken in a public setting.

After lunch, we all pretty much went into food comas, and naps were a must. Once we slept off some of the nshima induced coma, we went to work with the other medical interns discussing the survey we’d created, the workshop lessons and how to improve them, and we reviewed the questions kids had left for us to be answered before the start of the next set of workshops. Since it had already been a long day, tensions started to raise, so we decided to take a break to go answer the questions we had been assigned to answer. I think this approach is honestly the best for this group simply because of the many strong personalities (mine included) that can get in the way when assignments aren’t divvied out.

Of course, Braydan and I had to play more ping pong after answering our questions, then we did laundry and played more ping pong while it dried, and before we knew it, it was time for dinner. My first thought was “Food?! Again?! Didn’t we just eat a feast????” but it was BBQ night, and once I got closer to the BBQ, my stomach reminded me that working all day does cause you to build up an appetite. With full bellies and thankful hearts, we settled in for a discussion with a couple of our fellow medical interns while we let the food digest for a bit. I’m normally not a huge people person (in fact, as we speak there’s a party going on downstairs that I purposely have been avoiding) but just sitting and chatting in a quiet and peaceful setting was wonderful.

Soon enough, it was time to close out another day. I couldn’t have asked for a better day, and I’m so glad I get to spend the time here with my best friend and husband, Braydan. The days are long and often stressful in their own way, but he’s been my champion and light through it all. Until tomorrow, ¬°adios!

-Gabrielle Bezzant

Author: Gabrielle Bezzant

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